Murphy brace propels Ireland to victory over Moldova

Murphy brace propels Ireland to victory over Moldova

Ireland 2 - Moldova 0

Daryl Murphy's first-half double set up an intriguing World Cup qualification trip to Wales as the Republic of Ireland eased past Moldova 2-0.

The Nottingham Forest striker marked his 30th senior cap with his second and third goals for his country on a night when victory was the only option if Ireland were to keep their hopes of emerging from Group D alive.

They now head to Cardiff on Monday having to beat Chris Coleman's Euro 2016 semi-finalists, who are ranked 21 places above them by FIFA, to stand a chance of progressing from a wide-open group.

Murphy brace propels Ireland to victory over Moldova

They do so with Martin O'Neill having reaped the rewards of his decision to go for broke as he started with strikers Murphy and Shane Long, playmaker Wes Hoolahan and Bristol City winger Callum O'Dowda, who performed admirably in his first competitive start.

Murphy brace propels Ireland to victory over Moldova

Confirmation on Thursday evening that O'Neill, assistant Roy Keane and the rest of the coaching staff have verbally agreed to stay on for the Euro 2020 campaign came hours after the manager had hinted at his press conference that he was ready to do so.

It appears that much of the detail is still to be thrashed out and that nothing is yet signed, as was the case when the Football Association of Ireland announced the last extension on the eve of last summer's Euro 2016 finals.

Pic: Sportsfile
Pic: Sportsfile

O'Neill was still several weeks away from being appointed the last time Moldova won a competitive game in October 2013, and their hopes of ending that run in Dublin were dealt a significant blow with less than two minutes on the clock when Alexandru Dedov could only help on Stephen Ward's long throw-in and Murphy pounced to stab home.

It was just Ireland's third goal of the campaign at the Aviva Stadium, where draws have proved costly, but they did not have to wait too much longer for the fourth when Wes Hoolahan picked out Ward with an exquisite cross-field pass.

Pic: Sportsfile
Pic: Sportsfile

The full-back looked up before sending his cross to the far post, where Murphy rose unopposed to head it across keeper Ilie Cebanu to extend his side's lead.

Murphy's potency, Hoolahan's invention and the pace of O'Dowda caused repeated problems for Moldova and had Shane Long had his shooting boots on, he too might have got himself among the goals with Cebanu making a vital 23rd-minute block after the striker had earlier fired inches wide.

However, Ireland did not have it all their own way with Alexandru Dedov and Artur Ionita lively behind lone striker Radu Ginsari, although it was Sergiu Platica who brought the best out of keeper Darren Randolph with a dipping 26th-minute volley which required a flying fingertip save.

That said, defenders Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy both went close in the dying minutes of the first half with the visitors struggling to defend set-pieces.

To their credit, Moldova returned in determined fashion to make life uncomfortable for Ireland, although without troubling Randolph unduly, and Murphy might have completed his hat-trick when he glanced Hoolahan's 58th-minute cross towards goal, only for defender Vitalie Bordian to get in a block.

Pic: Sportsfile
Pic: Sportsfile

Long's misery deepened within three minutes when O'Dowda's blocked shot after another enterprising run by Hoolahan fell for him, but to his evident horror, he stabbed wide of an open goal.

Murphy only just failed to get to Cyrus Christie's driven 76th-minute cross ahead of Cebanu, and he and Hoolahan were applauded warmly as they left the pitch two minutes later with their work for the evening done.

Pic: Sportsfile
Pic: Sportsfile

Alexandru Gatcan was dismissed in stoppage time after thrusting his head towards substitute Harry Arter, and the final whistle signalled a successful conclusion to the first phase of the October mission ahead of a mouth-watering finale on Monday.

More on this topic

England more likely to win World Cup than Argentina or Belgium, says studyEngland more likely to win World Cup than Argentina or Belgium, says study

Indian fans buying more World Cup tickets than English - despite India not qualifyingIndian fans buying more World Cup tickets than English - despite India not qualifying

Almost half of England football fans believe the team should boycott Russia 2018 - surveyAlmost half of England football fans believe the team should boycott Russia 2018 - survey

Here's when the 2018 World Cup draw is on and how you can watch itHere's when the 2018 World Cup draw is on and how you can watch it


More in this Section

A first real sign Arteta's methods sinking in at ArsenalA first real sign Arteta's methods sinking in at Arsenal

Daniel Storey: Solskjaer has released the United handbrakeDaniel Storey: Solskjaer has released the United handbrake

Patience is key for Mane as Liverpool eventually find spark at Aston VillaPatience is key for Mane as Liverpool eventually find spark at Aston Villa

Michael Moynihan: 30 reasons why 1990 is the nostalgia defaultMichael Moynihan: 30 reasons why 1990 is the nostalgia default


Lifestyle

Liz O’Brien talks to Niall Breslin about his admiration for frontline staff, bereavement in lockdown, his new podcast, and why it's so important for us all just to slow down.Niall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirus

Podcasts are often seen as a male domain — see the joke, 'What do you call two white men talking? A podcast'.Podcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen to

Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

Whether you’re on staycation or risking a trip away, Marjorie Brennan offers suggestions on novels for a wide variety of tastesThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer

More From The Irish Examiner